Best Place for a Musical Prodigy to Get a Free Education (or Close to It)

Critics' Picks

Merit School of Music

38 S. Peoria

She’s eight, but what a gift! The Merit School of Music offers after-school, weekend, and summer programs—not to mention private lessons—that will take her all the way through high school. By then, if she’s really as talented as you thought she was, she’ll be one of the 365 young musicians (out of the 7,000 students Merit works with every year, at the school and in the community) in the Saturday Conservatory program. It’s free—money can’t be permitted to stand between her and her destiny.

Tuition for Merit’s other programs ranges from $200 a semester for group classes to $34 for half an hour of private instruction, and the $3 million in scholarships it offers each year can drive those costs down as low as $45 a semester and $4 a lesson. On YouTube listen to clarinetist Anthony McGill, a young Merit grad, perform with Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma at President Obama’s inauguration. And then search for “Variations on a Folk Song” to hear what jazz piano virtuoso Jeremy Jordan, an even younger graduate, did in eighth grade with “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” McGill went on to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music and the Metropolitan Opera; Jordan to Julliard.